Commercials. I tell Johanna, "It's so sad that the basis of Angel's whole plan is that his friends are idiots. I wonder how he feels about that." Johanna reads me bits of an Entertainment Weekly interview with Joss Whedon and summarizes it at follows: "He's dumb. And so unprofessional! Every time he complains about someone, my respect for the people he's bitching about goes up, because they just ignore it and I wouldn't be able to."
When we return, Angel has opened his shirt. The Thornites chant, "Ooooh, suits you, Sir!" Not really. One of the Thornites holds his hand over Angel and intones, "The Circle entwined," and the no-longer-mysterious but still spikey circular symbol of doom appears on Angel's chest. The Thornites chant, "We've got power, yes we do, we've got power, how 'bout you?" Or, again, perhaps they don't. A Thornite shakes Angel's hand and welcomes him to the cabal as the lights come on and they all remove their masks. There are probably a dozen or so Thornites, among them Archduke Sebassis, Senator Brucker, Vail, and Izzy. As glasses of champagne are handed around, Izzy cheerfully asks, "How 'bout that lamb we got you to slaughter -- any idea who that was?" Angel identifies Drogyn, and Izzy says, "We got you some supercharged warrior juice, not some schmuck." Izzy starts introducing Angel around. Sebassis says, "I must say, it's gratifying to see you've returned to form, Angelus." Angel menaces, "It's still 'Angel.'" Senator Brucker interrupts their chat. Angel says that he didn't know she was so well-connected, and Brucker smiles, "I'm not gonna take the White House in 2008 on just my sparkling wit and funding from hostile governments." She giggles, and Angel giggles back and says, "I expect not." He's doing a good job of looking at everyone hatefully while he schmoozes. Izzy brings Vail over, and Vail chuckles that Angel has been looking for him. Angel insists, "Actually, I've been lookin' like I'm looking for you. Appearances, you know." Izzy encourages them to shake hands, and Angel admits, "Ultimately, everything worked out for the best," and shakes Vail's hand while looking disgusted. Vail chuckles and adds, "Your son -- he kills quite well!" Angel thanks him and turns away. Izzy tells Angel that there's a great turnout: "Everybody's here." Angel looks around at the Thornites.
Night-to-day-vert. Angel strolls into his office, and I guess it's early, since the lobby is empty. Once Angel is inside, Gunn ducks out from behind the door with a sword, and Spicule pops out from somewhere and punches Angel, knocking him down. Cary and Wesley run in from the conference room armed with a crossbow and, well, guess what Wesley brought? If you said "gun," have a cookie. Boy, I hope that's the tranq gun. Spicule warns Angel to stay down. Of course, Angel gets up, none too limberly, and nobody does anything about it. Gunn says they know all about the Circle of the Black Thorn, and Cary mentions "a little jailbird we know and loathe." Lindsey was in chains because he's been in jail? I thought the MoG did that for some reason. When did that happen? Angel says, "What I do here is my business," and moves closer to Wesley as he adds, "You don't like how I conduct it, you can leave. Before I kill you." Wesley points out that threats aren't doing much for their trust. Wesley doesn't move back, though, so of course Angel grabs the gun and yanks it away. Melee! They fight, and Angel knocks Spicule and Gunn down before Cary fires an arrow into his shoulder. Angel tosses the shotgun down, and Wesley pulls out another gun because he's a slow learner. Angel kicks it away and grabs Cary by the neck, holding Cary in front of him as a shield.